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Equitable Moves Another Step Away From AXA

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A company that was once a high-profile pillar of the U.S. life insurance industry is continuing to reestablish itself as an independent, U.S.-based company.

Equitable Holdings Inc. announced Friday that Thomas Buberl — the chief executive officer of AXA S.A. — has left the Equitable board.

(Related: Equitable Gets Its Name Back)

The Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States was founded in New York in 1859, and its executives and directors were prominent in New York society.

AXA, a company based in Paris, acquired control over Equitable in 1991.

AXA began  the process of spinning Equitable off as a separate company in 2017, partly in response to changes in European insurance company accounting and solvency laws.

AXA distributed stock in the unit, which was then known as AXA Equitable, to its own shareholders in May 2018. Immediately after AXA distributed the stock, AXA still had control over AXA Equitable. Since then, AXA has been selling much of its remaining interest in the unit.

The company formerly known as AXA Equitable cut “AXA” out of its name in January.

In December, AXA sold 3 million shares of Equitable stock, and that rediced AXA’s ownership interest in Equitable below 10%, according to a notice Equitable filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

“As a result of AXA ceasing to beneficially own more than 10% of the company’s outstanding common stock, the number of directors that AXA may designate to the Company’s board of directors decreased from two to zero,” Equitable says in the notice.

George Stansfield, AXA’s deputy chief executive officer, is another AXA executive who has been serving on the Equitable board.

A shareholder agreement with AXA gives Equitable the right to remove Stansfield from its board.

Equitable is waiving the requirement that Stansfield resign from the Equitable board, Equitable says.

“Accordingly, Mr. Stansfield will continue to serve as a director for the remainder of his term but will no longer be an ‘AXA director’ as defined in the shareholder agreement,” Equitable says.

— Read AXA Equitable Shares Debut on New York Stock Exchangeon ThinkAdvisor.

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